This is the story of Erin Branham and how she arrived at the decision of whether or not she should have a party commemorating her thirtieth birthday.
Let's go back a few years. It was second grade, and she was having a party - a Cabbage Patch pool party, no less! She was so excited.
Her friends Becky and Jenny and Beth and Melissa all came, plus a few others.
The girls were having a great time splashing and swimming in the pool, until Becky - who was known for being a wee bit klutzy - sunk the boogie board she was playing with deep beneath the pool's surface. The boogie board shot like a rocket from beneath Becky, hitting Melissa square in the eye.
It was awful.
An emergency call was made to Melissa's mother, who picked her up and took her to the doctor immediately.
The party moved indoors and Little Erin decided to show her friends the family guinea pigs.
Beth - who was known for being a wee bit klutzy - was holding Cocoa when she lost her grip. Cocoa crashed to the ground and lay motionless. Miraculously, Cocoa began moving. She was alive and just a bit stunned.
It was at that point Little Erin was ready for everyone to leave. Her friend suffered permanent eye damage, her guinea pig was nearly killed, and no amount of cake, ice cream, or presents could make up for the tragedies that occurred at her party.
It always seemed like when Erin had a birthday party specifically in her honor some sort of incident or tiny tragedy occured - if you consider someone losing their eye sight at her party a "tiny tragedy." She won't name names or recount more incidents because they are memories she has buried in the hopes of letting go. But she IS a female, which means those incidents will never be forgotten.
Little Erin is now Big Erin About To Turn 30.
Everyone has been telling Big Erin About To Turn 30 that she should celebrate her thirtieth birthday with a party. It is a momentous occasion, after all.
"What should I do? Everyone thinks I should have a party, but I'm not sure if I should! Every time I do something special, it ends in disaster!" She hemmed and she hawed. She pondered and scratched her head. She chewed on her lip as she wondered what to do.
"You think I should have a party? Really?" she asked Everyone.
"Oh, yes! You need to celebrate in style! And definitely ON your birthday!" Everyone said.
"Hmmm...my birthday is July 3rd - a Sunday - will you be around?"
"Oh," Everyone said with a look of chagrin. "July 3rd? Really? Hmmmm...that's the holiday weekend. Gee! Sorry! But we'll be on vacation or doing church activities or own family activities. We'd love to come, but your birthday isn't convenient for us!"
And so Big Erin About To Turn 30 smiled and thanked Everyone for wanting to come to her party and wished them a lovely time on their vacation.
Her decision had been made.
You see, she really didn't want a party. She thought about having one because Everyone told her she should have one. It's her 30th birthday! She should celebrate a new decade! As a middle child, Big Erin About To Turn 30 likes to do things to make others happy. But a big party wouldn't make her happy. It would be too much pressure. She really doesn't enjoy all of the attention.
And so Big Erin About To Turn 30 made her decision. She will celebrate her thirtieth birthday doing what makes her happy: following tradition.
She will enjoy a quiet, non-fussy birthday. Except, since it is her thirtieth birthday, she will wear her diamond earrings given to her on her sixteenth birthday, of course.
Her family will do what they've always done: go out to dinner to a fancy restaurant. She'll pick an extravagant item off the menu - an item that her family will call "weird." She'll laugh at her family and their unsophisticated palates. She'll eat a fancy dessert at the restaurant - no cake for her. She doesn't like birthday cake and especially doesn't like to have leftover cake in the house. Then she'll open a few presents. She'll find time to take her annual birthday picture. And then she'll go to sleep, anxious for the next day: the 4th of July.
THAT'S when the party starts.
She'll get up early in the morning, drive a car to the parade route, leave the car parked to secure a space and their ride home, and then she'll walk home. She'll make waffles with strawberries and blueberries for her family for breakfast. Her mother will fry chicken for the lunch they'll have after the parade. Her grandparents will arrive around noon, and then they'll pile in a car driven by her brother who will drop them off at the parade, and they'll watch the Arbutus parade together. Then they'll come home in the car she dropped off earlier, and they'll enjoy lunch and each other's company. And, when it gets dark, she'll wander out into her front yard and peer through the trees to watch the Inner Harbor fireworks way off in the distance.
And THAT is how Big Erin About To Turn 30 plans on celebrating her thirtieth birthday.
No big fuss.
No big party.
Just her family.
Just the way it's always been.
She likes it much, much better that way.
And most importantly, she'll be content.
That's all she wants on her birthday is to be happy. No disappointment, no worries, no chance for someone to suffer eye damage or small animals to be maimed.
Sweet simplicity with family - that's where she is happiest.
And there you have the semi-dramatical mid-length story of Erin Branham and how she arrived at the decision of whether or not she should have a party commemorating her thirtieth birthday.
Aren't you glad this was the semi-dramatical mid-length story? Imagine what the dramatical full length story would look like!